Notes For a Snow Day
A snowy day, kids at home, a perfect chance to catch up on all the bits and pieces in the middle of Super Bowl week. So here we go:
--No chance did Jordan Staal deserve a suspension for his punch on Brandon Prust of the Rangers on Tusday night. Staal kept his glove on, for starters, and first absorbed an elbow/forearm shiver from Prust before delivering a big left.
If Tim Gleason wasn't suspended for punching Nik Kulemin, there's no way Staal deserved a ban. This was not Ben Eager on Colby Armstrong. It'll be interesting, by the way, to gauge the Leaf response to Gleason when the Hurricanes come to town tomorrow.
--Lindy Ruff revealed this week he declined to sign a two-year extension from the Sabres earlier this season. That might change with the team being sold to billionaire Terry Pegula. But if Ruff is a free agent in June, he will be in hot, hot demand. If Brian Burke decides that's it for Ron Wilson, Ruff would be a perfect fit in Toronto.
--More tough times for Marc Savard. Really too bad. For Brian Burke, it's confirmation that while he knew Savard could give the Leafs the No. 1 centre they badly need, it wasn't worth doing a deal with the Bruins for Savard last summer even if it had only cost the Leafs the balance of Savard's contract.
Signing RW Mike Brown today to a new three-year deal, by the way, is a good move for the Leafs. Brown can't score and has had trouble staying healthy this year, but he brings an energy level to the Leafs that they desperately need, and need more of.
--Here's something very good for Canadian tennis. Two Canadians in the top 100 in the world and, apparently, on the rise. Rebecca Marino is now No. 84 on the women's tour, Milos Raonic No. 94 with a bullet on the ATP tour.
--Tough decision for the Tiger-Cats to put receiver Chris Bauman, the first overall selection in the '07 CFL draft, on waivers. At the end of last season Bauman finally started being productive after not doing much for three seasons. Sounded like he wasn't going to sign in Steeltown, word seems to be he's headed to Edmonton.
--ESPN's Keith Law rates the top 20 players expected to make an impact in 2011. Blue Jays P Kyle Drabek is No. 3, with C J.P. Arencibia is No. 5. Not bad.
--It's national signing day in the U.S. for college football. Gotta say that after some trying years, great to see the Irish following up an encouraging end to last season with a big recruiting class, ranked 11th in the country led by three big defensive ends.
--Ouch, Sens are 1-9-4 in last 14. A big deal has been made about how the decision to keep Wade Redden rather than Zdeno Chara started the slide downward. One factor rarely discussed is how after Ray Emery led the team to the '07 Stanley Cup final, his career exploded. Emery might have been the guy the Sens were looking for long-term between the pipes. Now, after battling nasty injuries, he's on the comeback trail at age 28.
--Devils may be 7-1-1 in their last nine, but only 7,218 fans were at the Prudential Centre on Tuesday night. Club is now 27th in NHL attendance and part of the ownership group wants out. Will be interesting to see what this means to the future of restricted free agent Zach Parise.
--Since Tom Renney declared "it won't surprise me when we make the playoffs," Oilers are 2-13-3. What was the point, looking back, of exiling Sheldon Souray to the minors again?
--Back in 1993, Andrew Brunette won the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the top scorer in Ontario major junior hockey while with the Owen Sound Platers, scoring 62 goals in 66 games. On Tuesday, the now 37-year-old Brunette finally played his 1,000th NHL game. A tribute to determination.
--Ben Roethlisberger reminds me of Troy Aikman. Not the way in which he plays - Aikman couldn't stay away from concussions - but in the fact that, like Aikman, Roethlisberger doesn't win MVP awards or passing titles. He just wins. Like Aikman.
--Dwayne Roloson has four shutouts in 11 games. Incredible. The best part of his acquisition was that it was an admission by GM Steve Yzerman that his summer signing of Dan Ellis wasn't the answer. Unlike the Leafs with Andrew Raycroft and then Vesa Toskala, Yzerman didn't stubbornly insist Ellis was the man but instead acknowledged he wasn't and found something better.
--Interesting to read how Tomas Kaberle "vetoed" trades to Philly for Jeff Carter and Boston for Phil Kessel. Interesting mostly because in both cases, that's not what happened at all.
--If you're a Leaf fan worried that Kessel will be adversely affected by being taken last in the all-star draft, listen to the words of his cousin, David Moss, who plays for the Calgary Flames. "Not much bugs him. . . .he has such a good attitude about things."
--Most encouraging news for Canucks isn't talked about enough. Backup goalie Cory Schneider is 9-2-2 this season with a .926 save percentage. For the first time, the Canucks have a bona fide alternative if Roberto Luongo comes up cold in the playoffs, and a backup goalie capable of pushing Bobby Lou.
--One of the reasons the Hurricanes are beloved to a surprising degree by their fans in Raleigh is that Eric Staal and Cam Ward are the team's stars and never played for another team. Brandon Sutter and Jeff Skinner may join them over time.
--Brent Sutter had the right response to the news 10 per cent of NHLers in a union vote of 318 players said he was the coach they'd least like to play for. "I'm disappointed I wasn't No. 1," he said.
--Sometimes plus-minus stats distort the truth about a player. Last season, defenceman Andrei Meszaros was minus-14 in Tampa. This season, he's plus-27 in Philly. Has he improved that much? Don't think so.